Author: Emily Reimer-Barry

Renewed Debate about Torture and Useful Intelligence

As more details about the killing of Osama Bin Laden are released, one of the questions that has surfaced is whether the CIA relied on intelligence resulting from the torture of terrorist suspects held in detention facilities abroad. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite wrote a compelling Op-Ed in the Washington Post On Faith board, in which she argues that torture is both inherently wrong and counterproductive. As Catholics react to the unfolding news, we should remain attentive to the rich wisdom of the just war tradition. The Torture is a Moral Issue campaign, linked here on the USCCB website, explains: Torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions, in their highest ideals, hold dear. It degrades everyone involved-policy-makers, perpetrators and victims. It contradicts our nation’s most cherished values. Any policies that permit torture and inhumane treatment are shocking and morally intolerable. Nothing less is at stake in the torture abuse crisis than the soul of our nation. What does it signify if torture is condemned in word but allowed in deed? Let America abolish torture now-without exceptions. Food for thought as we continue to reflect on the unfolding...

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How should we measure the value of higher education?

As we enter the month of May, we enter the season of college graduation–that season of final exams, grading, commencement invitations, and the inevitable round of conversations regarding the value of a college degree. Many are well aware of the influence of the U.S. News and World Report college rankings. In a recent essay appearing in The Atlantic, “Professor X” asks the provocative question: “Is all this higher education really necessary?” He describes “mounting skepticism about the value of a college degree,” even as tuition costs continue to rise. And all of this is amidst an increasingly consumerist model of higher education, where the implicit goal seems to be: diploma, job, big fat paycheck. Professor X compares his experience of college in the 1970s with his more recent teaching position at a small private college After describing his own college experience, he compares it to contemporary campus culture: “College wasn’t the old place of retreat and meditation that I remembered–a place to quietly condition one’s mind with four years of intellectual crunches and sets and reps. It no longer seemed that intellectual a place at all. Now it was a place where students accumulated credits to advance at their jobs. College was very much part of the workaday world. All kinds of people attended because, if they wanted a bigger paycheck, they had no choice in the matter. The...

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Removal of Australian Bishop Raises New Questions

The National Catholic Reporter posted a story today (via Cindy Wooden of CNS) about the removal of Bishop William Morris of the Diocese of Toowoomba, Australia. This follows an apostolic visitation by Archbishop Chaput of the U.S. Diocese of Denver, Colorado. Bishop Morris issued a letter in which he explained that he has not been granted access to the report written by Bishop Chaput, and that “without due process it has been impossible to resolve these matters, denying me natural justice without any possibility of appropriate defense and advocacy on my behalf.” Bishop Morris did not want to resign, but negotiated early retirement, albeit “with profound sadness.” Why was Bishop Morris removed? Cindy Wooden writes that it is because of his Advent Pastoral Letter of 2006, in which he indicated he would be “open to ordaining women and married men if church rules changed to allow such a possibility.” The removal of Bishop Morris, without a public explanation, raises some serious questions. I wonder, what is this really about? Is this about ordination? Is “openness” to women’s ordination a sign of infidelity? What would due process look like in this case? Why was Archbishop Charles Chaput appointed as Apostolic Visitor to the Diocese of Toowoomba? Anne M. Burke, former chairperson of the USCCB National Review Board, wrote an Op-Ed in the Chicago Tribute on April 29, in which she...

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